The boys' birthdays always bring back the memories of the day they were born. My, my....how life can change in a day. Here is the story of how my life changed....for the better.
Bradley and I had been married for almost 5 years before we both agreed that it was time for a baby. We had struggled and scrimped and fought and made up and went to school and worked and played for 5 years. I never imagined that we would wait 5 years to have a baby, but that's just the way it worked out. We desperately needed those early years to build a relationship as a couple first. We married so young (I was 18 and he was 20) that we weren't prepared to nuture a relationship and a baby at the same time. At times over those first years, I would try to convince him to go ahead and try for a baby, and he would disagree. And then at other times, he was ready and I wasn't. I am so thankful we waited.
Sometime around April or May of 1998, we both decided that we were ready to start our family. I'm not sure what made it a good time for us, since I was still finishing my education degree and we lived in a 1970's model mobile home. We were not very finacially stable...but nevertheless....we agreed.
We thought that it might possibly take a while for us to get pregnant, since I had been taking pills to prevent a pregnancy consistently during our marriage. Wrong. We got pregnant right away. I couldn't wait to take that first pregnancy test! I took a couple of tests too early, and they didn't show the two pink lines I was looking for. I knew it was too early to tell, but I took them anyway. I waited a couple of days, and tried again. I could see the faintest little glow of a second line. It was enough....I knew I was pregnant! And I was beyond thrilled! Bradley and I were ectastic....we were going to be parents.
My pregnancy passed by beautifully. I had the typical pregnancy symptoms.....some morning sickness, tender breasts, stuffy nose, perpetual headache, fatigue.....but I didn't care. I was pregnant and happy. I craved plums and mexican food during this pregnancy, which was very unusal for me. Until I got pregnant, I didn't even like Mexican foods. Now it's probably my favorite cuisine. Weird. I loved being pregnant. I loved pretty much everything about it. Until the end, when I got so gigantic that I couldnt even fit into my maternity clothes....then I was ready for it to be over. I gained 43 pounds during my pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of my freedom with extra calories.
My due date came and went. My belly was beyond gigantic. I was truly enormous. I questioned my doctor about the size of the baby. He assured me that the baby would be a normal weight...probably around 7 to 8 pounds. My doctor is the old fashioned sort, who doesn't believe in elective inductions. He had no intentions of speeding up the process. After 3 long days past my due date, I finally went into labor. This was on a Friday night. I started feeling a tightening in my abdomen and my stomach started hurting down low. It almost felt like the pains accompanied by a stomach virus. The tightening kept happening and started getting regular, so I figured that I must be having contractions. I started timing the contractions until they became more regular. I decided that maybe I should call the doctor. The doctor on call advised me to go ahead and come in to be checked.
We made the hour long trek to the hospital and I was hooked up to the monitors. I could see the little contraction lines rising and falling on the monitor. It looked like maybe we would be having a baby soon. Bradley and I laughed and joked and were giddy about bringing this new life into the world. And my patience for not knowing whether or not I was having a boy or girl had run out long ago. I was about to burst with excitement to meet my son....or daughter. After a bit of monitoring, the doctor came in. After the examination, he told me that I was in labor, but hadn't made much progress at all. He assured me that I would be more comfortable laboring at home for a while. He instructed me to come back when my contractions were stronger and closer together. He said that I would probably be back the next morning.
We had walked at the mall, but I felt terrible and had to keep stopping to catch my breath and wait out a contraction. I paced around the house and we visited Bradley's parents. I was completely miserable. I didn't sleep a single bit. After about 24 hours of laboring at home, I felt that my contractions were too strong and too close together to be dealing with at home. Early Saturday night, we made the drive back again to the hospital.
Once again I was monitored and checked. This time, I was also given a hospital bracelet and was admitted, but body was progressing at a snails pace. Although I was admitted, I was only dialated to one centimenter. One! After over 24 hours of contractions....One! The doctor ordered introvenous pitocin to help my labor progress more quickly. My contractions quickly got increasingly stronger. I was having very strong labor pains. After a couple more hours, the contractions got so intense that I instinctively began to grimmace and moan with each one. Throughout the long, long night, my pain was honestly, almost unbearable. At no point during the night, was my cervix far enough dialated that I could receive an epidural. I remained 2-3 centimenters all night. At some point during the night, a nurse gave me some NuBain pain medication. I remember her telling me that it would "take the edge off". I promise you that the NuBain did not take any tiny bit of edge off. It only made me act weird. I remember feeling so strange, but feeling every single bit of the pain. My contractions were so strong that when I gripped the bedrails to help me get through the contraction, the wheels on the bed rattled. I can only imagine that I appeared to be possessed.
So....finally....sometime in the late morning....on Sunday....I was checked by the doctor and had made it to the magic 4 cm cervix. I was now eligible for relief. Real relief. In the form of an epidural. I truly don't think I could have made it much longer without it. I think that if I had lived 100 years ago, I would've been one of those sad stories of women who died in childbirth. The pain was bad, people.
So I got my extremely overdue epidural, and finally felt more human. Although I was more exhausted than I have ever been. Ever. By this point, I had been in labor for about 38 hours. I continued to labor, much more painlessly throughout the morning. I was tired, but I was somewhat able to carry on a conversation and suck on ice chips. Family members had the waiting room packed out and they would take turns coming in to see how I was feeling and how things were progressing.
Sometime around lunch time on Sunday.....remember that this all originally started on Friday.....I was checked yet again and it was pronounced that it was "Time to push!" I felt so relieved. I was thrilled that I would finally get the reward from this weekend of pain and hard work. And I would soon get to learn the gender of the baby. Everyone was on pins and needles wanting to know if the baby was a boy or girl. The family in the waiting room even had bets going on the gender and the weight of the baby. The wait was almost over!
What I didn't know at the time that the nurse said, "It's time to push!" was that my pushing endurance was going to have to be as strong as my labor endurance. I was hoping for a few minutes of pushing....but I should have known better. I pushed and pushed and pushed. Bradley encouraged me. My nurse cheered me on. She counted out the seconds for me to keep pushing. "1....2....3...4...5...6...7.....8....Again. Push, Jennifer. 1....2...3....4...5....6...7....8. We can see the hair! You're doing good. Go again." Over and over I pushed. I was giving each and every push all the strength I had left. Over and over......"Push again!" I pushed for 3 hours straight. 3 hours. My body was exhausted. I was spent. I was running out of strength, yet I kept pushing. "1....2....3...4...5...6....7...8." And then a little after 3 hours of pushing, I could hear the doctor mumble something to the nurses. I knew they were gonna give up on the vaginal delivery soon. I had already been told earlier on that 3 hours of pushing is the limit. I willed every ounce of energy that I had left and threw it onto the next pushes. "1......2....3.....4....5....6....7.....8....push again.....1.....2.....3....4....5...6...7...8."
Then, I heard the Dr. say something else to the nurse and she went to the "Help" button on the wall behind my bed. She pressed the button and told whoever answered my name and the room number I was in. To this day, I don't know what kind of help she was calling for, because at that moment....I started vomitting. Which seems unusual to me, yet I didn't even have the strength or mental capacity to question it. But for whatever reason it happened, it helped. The baby was finally out. The nurse immediately pressed the help button again and said, "Nevermind. The baby came out." She had cancelled whatever help she was requesting. The doctor asked for one more gentle push, which I was glad to oblige.
I heard a cry. It was beautiful. Bradley was staring at my baby that was still hidden from my view. A tear rolled down his cheek.. The doctor announced that he was cutting the cord. I summoned enough energy to say, "What is it?!!" It seemed that everyone had forgotten for a moment that I was there. The doctor said, "Boy! It's a Boy!"
My head fell back onto the pillow and I smiled. So happy to be the mommy to a baby boy. The nurse brought the little sticky, smelly bundle of a baby boy over to me and laid him in my arms. His head was so unnaturally shaped, his face was swollen from the long delivery, he was screaming, and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Ever. As soon as my eyes hit his face, I said, "He looks just like you, Bradley!" I was instantly in love with this flailing, screaming, swollen little guy.
I never wanted to let him go. I wanted to just stare at his adorable little lips and teensy little fingers forever.
When the nurse took him from me to be weighed and bathed and check, I couldn't keep my eyes off of him. The rest of the family came in to meet the newest addition and everyone ooohed and ahhhed over him.... although everyone was a bit concerned by the odd shape of his head, we were assured that it would turn out just fine. He weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces, which explained the difficult delivery, but didn't explain why the doctor thought he would be "an average sized baby". He was big, but healthy.
He was perfect.
About an hour or so after Tucker was born, I started feeling really strange.
I still can't really explain it today.
I felt so 'disconnected' from what was going on. I was exhausted and my body and mind had given everything it had to delivering the baby.
I was wheeled into the room that I would spend the next two day, and the family tagged along happily. Everyone was smiling and happy....except me.
I couldn't do anything else.
It wasn't that I was depressed or anything...I was just......
I was out of it.
People were snapping pictures and I knew that I should be smiling for the cameras, but I just couldn't. I honestly didn't even have the energy to smile.
Looking back on it now, I think that maybe I was in some sort of shock....brought on by true exhaustion.
I was told later that some family members got upset by how exhausted I looked and left the room crying.
Luckily, the fatigue induced shock passed.
By morning I felt much better.
I was all smiles!
I couldn't get enough of this new little guy.
I wanted to keep him in my arms or snuggled up next to me all the time.
I hated when they took him away to bath him or be checked by the pediatrician, because I wanted him with me.
My world had instantly changed.
That was 13 years ago today.
For 13 years, I have had the pleasure of being Tucker's Mom.
I still want him with me. I still hate for him to be out of my sight.
And, I still love him as much today as I did the first moment I saw him.
Probably even more.